Auckland Council breaking law

Len Brown Smack facePlanning Parrot says:

Who will hold Auckland Council Officers accountable for breaking the law?

Auckland Council is like a citizen. It is required to adhere to the same laws that govern our nation and every person in it.

Whilst Council is afforded certain rights and functions through legislation that empower it, that power is not unlimited.

In fact it is very limited.

Those limitations are the essential boundaries specifically created in law to protect people and property from Council. In doing this the law ensures that Councils and their delegates (council officers) are bound in their duties.

Without which we would experience law-less Councils and authoritarianism.

So what happens to Councils and their officers when they break the law? 

And do they break the law?

The answer is that Councils do break the law and more regularly than we think. Councils get away with breaking the law because they are not policed, except to be tested by specialist Courts such as the Environment Court.

In 2010 Auckland Council embarked on a year and a half long process to prepare a strategic document we all know as the Auckland Plan.

Launched with fanfare the plan was launched by Mayor Brown as the grand vision for Auckland. The document to guide the growth of Auckland through to the year 2040.

In preparation of that plan did Auckland Council break the law?

Yes it did.

The Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009 sets clearly the functions. Section 80 includes the following:

Section 80:

(4) The spatial plan must -

(c) provide an evidential base to support decision making for Auckland, including evidence of trends, opportunities, and constraints within Auckland;

Did Auckland Council planners prepare any evidential base to support their decisions?

No they did not.

After printing of the draft Auckland Plan an attempt to produce some spherics of an evidential basis was provided. But it was poorly prepared, erroneous and realistically failed to meet any professional standards.

Much of the content was focused on theory. It did not meet the industry benchmarks for the related disciplines.

Much of the flaws were exposed within months by outsiders.

For example Studio D4/Jasmax FGA Study proved emphatically that Council had no way of ever achieving the density targets of the plan. Submitted evidence to Council proved this.

Reports and analysis in Council hands were all subsequently buried and ignored and the Auckland Plan has been produced with no regard to any legitimate evidence because Council planners and the Mayor wanted their plan and vision implemented. It was as such pushed through regardless of the erroneous basis to it and so it does not meet the requirement of the Act.

In doing that the Council has chosen to ignore the rule of law in favour of its own preferences, plans and ideas and despite no empirical backbone.

It is important to focus on the emphasis in that provision of the Act – support – and – an evidential base.

Any professional knows what constitutes an evidential base. It is credible and accurate.

Anyone who has been before the Court would know how that is tested.

Any RMA lawyer will tell you the Auckland Plan has been produced with no evidential base.

Moving on to the Unitary Plan the Council is again rushing to produce a document that is worrying lawyers, civil libertarians and anyone with half a brain.

Why?

Because it too is being produced without an empirical base and with scant regard to the law.

The Resource Management Act carries the provisions that enable the Unitary Plan.

It is fair to say that the powers and functions of Auckland Council (and Councils generally) are the most tested and defined aspects of the RMA. As such there can be no confusion as to what Council can and can’t do, and what is required of them in performing their functions.

So what about the reports, analysis and cost benefit analysis that’s required under section 32 of the RMA?

That section of the RMA says:

(4) For the purposes of the examinations referred to in subsections (3) and (3A), an evaluation must take into account—

(a)the benefits and costs of policies, rules, or other methods; and

(b)the risk of acting or not acting if there is uncertain or insufficient information about the subject matter of the policies, rules, or other methods.

(5) The person required to carry out an evaluation under subsection (1) must prepare a report summarising the evaluation and giving reasons for that evaluation.

(6) The report must be available for public inspection at the same time as the document to which the report relates is publicly notified or the regulation is made.

So now that the draft Unitary Plan is out – where are the required reports and analysis to support it?

Why have no reports and analysis been provided to date?

Have they been done at all?

Or have Council officers yet again ignored the rule of law by not preparing anything and simply writing the rules they way they want?

In preparing rules the rules need a basis to justify and direct what purpose they exist for. So the analysis and reports come first. Not last.

In a time where apathy prevails its hardly a surprise that Council officers are trying it on. But that doesn’t make it right.

If you or I broke that law we would be held accountable. Probably subject to prosecution and most likely fined or jailed.

So when a Council planning officer – a person who has the power to cause substantial effect on property, property rights and values (that cascade into effects on people), force change and direct how we live goes about their role and ignore the law ….. should they not too be held to account?

Our politicians should hold these people to account, censure them and reassure the public that the Council respects and upholds the law by proving it.

Lyin’ Len Brown is permitting and allowing his staff to break the law in the name of proffering his own plan. Len has not only supported, but turned a blind eye to the unlawful actions of his Council.

  • Brian of Mt Wellington

    This whole plan is turning out to be a crock of shit. Would it not be easier to convince this so called extra million people who will live in Auckland to live in another part of the country. If there is a lack of housing, expensive housing and infrastructure that is years behind I would have thought it logical to suggest other locations.

    • johnbronkhorst

      Exactly….look at other cities….in the UK for example… they would travel from distances as far away as Hamilton and Whangarei to Auckland. Since we don’t have the rail infrastructure to do this (they have had it for 150 years). The roads are being improved, would be an incentive along with the price of housing and rent in Auckland as a disincentive will encourage people to live elsewhere.

  • High_Tory

    Yes they break the law. Nothing ever happens because they destroy evidence and cover up for each other.
    They believe they are above the law and can do whatever they like to whom they like with legal immunity….(and get paid 200 grand a year for it)

    The only way it would ever change is if a Mayor and Council ticket got elected with a majority of seats and asked Mr Key for power to sack everybody, without exception, and start again. Fat chance!

    James

  • johnbronkhorst

    “Those limitations are the essential boundaries specifically created in law to protect people and property from Council. In doing this the law ensures that Councils and their delegates (council officers) are bound in their duties.”
    Also created to prevent councils from passing bilaws that contradict or inhibit laws from central govt. Especially relevant as labour are VERY active at the local level and would do anything to fuck up a National govt. ….just look at lennie recently trying to take on National over trains, roading and housing etc!!!

  • Michael Wood

    It’s a fair point that people should be held to account when they break the law. In this case I don’t think the accusation stacks up, but we’ll see.

    What we definitively know is that your mates at POAL broke the law during the lockout of Port workers last year. This has been proven in the courts and the company fined $40,000. The judge found that the breach of the law was deliberate.
    No doubt you will apply the same standards to POAL management and call for them to be censured.

    • High_Tory

      No because the union are just communist inspired troublemakers out to shit stir.

    • http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/ Whaleoil

      What has that got to do with this post Michael…classic troll distraction technique…you are better than that…if you want to keep commenting lift your game.

      BTW POAL is a council owned company…with Len Brown as the head of the council…sooo…more law breaking by a Len Brown council if you want to play the spin game.

      • Michael Wood

        Yes quite right. It has happened on Len’s watch and it is to his great dis-credit that he and the Governing Body did not act to reign in the law-breakers at POAL.

        I’m completely consistent on this. If an arm of Council is definitively found to have broken the law then they should be held to account, and in most cases heads should roll.
        You remain the person in this argument promoting two standards of accountability.

        • johnbronkhorst

          and the union intimidation of the non-union workers, the truck drivers delivering to the port etc etc

    • http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/ Whaleoil

      The kindergarten they did it too argument is so lame…to be expected from a Labour apparatchik though.

    • ratesarerevolting

      Hi Michael

      Do you support the Unitary plan being notified or do you believe that the serious concerns raised by ratepayers suggest that further consultation and clarification is required.

  • rrroberto

    Like most people who have to work for a living, there is little time to wade through the documentation provided. What I did notice on a skim read were two standout points.
    One was to do with the climate change BS and the plan went on to show what Auckland was going to be doing. The evidence provided was that there was some sort of concensus or agreement about man made climate change, couldn’t easily find any reference to show on what evidential basis this part of the plan was built on, no reference easily found as to who agrees that the climate change is man made ,what are the credentials of the people who are in this agreement, and Auckland council has incorporated into the Unitary Plan policy based on this agreement. The other worrying thing was the Treaty of Waitangi component, seemed to be moving in the direction of the principles of the treaty without giving any definition of these principles, or any evidence that these principles actual exist. Now I certainly would have no objection to the inclusion of the Treaty of Waitangi, but only so long as its “The Treaty, The whole Treaty, and nothing but the Treaty”. Both the climate change consensus, and the principles of the treaty are very susceptible to liquefaction, no basis for the foundation of anything, certainly not an evidential basis I should think.

  • ratesarerevolting

    Len Brown is a complete and utter fucking cunt !

    • Dumrse

      OH DO DA DAY

  • blokeintakapuna

    Thanks for bringing this into brilliant sunlight WO.
    Please keep holding their feet to the flames until the Council is a bit more honest and forthright… and they could start with the exact % of rates increase we have all been forced to wear…

    • sheppy

      I’d like to know just how much this BS has cost each ratepayer in total, and for that matter how they can get away with wasting ratepayers money like this

  • johnbronkhorst

    On this Unitary plan, I have seen plenty of reasoning(spin) from dear old lennie, about housing and density of such. But nothing about sewage, drainage, water, electricity, post, rubbish collection, etc etc which all have SERIOUS consequences when you not only increase the number of people but the density of population. eg if you double the number of people living in central Auckland, you must double the amount of garbage collection and therefore trucks to collect it…leading to more heavy traffic on the roads in central Auckland leading to …traffic jams at strange times of night, noise, damage to roads etc now do that same exercise for everything else.

    • Patrick

      Talking about garbage & sewage is hardly glamourous for our elected officials though is it? I mean I am sure they would prefer soirees overseas to discuss the planning laws in Monaco as opposed to a convention in Shenzen on the latest technologies in the garbage compaction world or how the latest & greatest sewage macerator can push thousands of litres of pooh over exceptional distances.

      “One has to get ones’ priorities right after all, aye what?”

  • Mr_Blobby

    Bit of a catch 22 or something.

    Property prices have been rising, making housing less affordable for more and more people, mainly due to decades of Council incompetence.

    The intensification that should have happened decades ago, will push up land prices making property even less affordable. To the point that perfectly good houses, will be demolished to make way for intensification that will produce less value for money.

  • Jacques H

    I don’t agree with the Unitary Plan, but it’s not correct that the council has broken the law. As Lenny keeps telling everyone, this is a “pre-draft”. It’s not a draft for notification. No section 32 analysis is needed. They haven’t broken the law.

  • philbest

    Cam, another point on which Councils are routinely flouting the law, is in charging development contributions when there is no “nexus” – as required in the law – between the levy and Council spending on NEW INFRASTRUCTURE. Councils are routinely using developers as a cash cow for revenue to mitigate rates increases, by making developers pay for what is actually maintenance and renewal – which are supposed to be covered by rates. Developers unfortunately mostly let the Council shake them down because the cost of delays and legal action is too high, not to mention Councils powers to exact revenge.

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